Jumping over the Mountains on a Unique Canal Lift

The story about delivery of heavy-lift cargoes to the construction site of Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP would be incomplete without mentioning a unique hydraulic facility – Krasnoyarsky canal lift. It helps the vessels, travelling along the Yenisei, overcome the water level differences below and above the hydro power plant in Krasnoyarsk. There’s just no other way to cope with this obstacle.

By means of the above mentioned gear, a vessel, 90 m long and 18 m wide, carrying a cargo, weighing up to 1,500 tons, can be «transferred» from the tail pond to the upstream wall and backwards. A vessel is transported afloat – the canal lift moves a lot of water as well. The total weight, traveling along the lifting path, exceeds 8 thou tons.

The canal lift is a platform, moved via the railway track with a gauge of 9 m and a toothed wheel gearing. Each of the rails rests upon a separate elevated track. Proceeding is possible due to electric traction. To load a vessel into the lift, the platform is lowered below the water level, a vessel enters the lift, and the platform moves upward along the trestle; a vessel is carried afloat. In the upper point the platform proceeds into the slewing circle which takes it to another track the platform travels along to the tail pond. Only then a ship can leave the canal lift.

A little bit of history. On casting the first pieces of concrete into the dam of Krasnoyarsk HPP in 1961, navigation via this part of Yenisei was terminated for years to come. The construction estimate excluded a canal lift project owing to its expensiveness and engineering complexity. But estimates showed that the only alternative – shipping lock construction – is unprofitable, as the chain of locks would extend almost to Krasnoyarsk (40 km away from the HPP dam). Therefore, it was decided to build a canal lift in this very area.

So, it was included into the construction estimate in 1964. The canal lift construction was grandiose. 10 years later trial runs of the lift were performed. On September, 22, 1976 it lifted and transferred the first GT-8 vessel to Krasnoyarsk Sea. The ship passed one hundred meters in 30-35 minutes.

Over ten vessels were forwarded in 1976-1977, and in September 1977 the canal lift moved the motor vessel, towing a rotor for the first unit of Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP. In 1981 it lifted and transported diesel-electric ship «Anton Rubinstein» for tourism purposes. The last, tenth wheel for the turbine was carried in October 1983, when the Krasnoyarsk canal lift was officially commissioned.

Like 30 years ago, the Krasnoyarsk canal lift enables delivery of oversized and heavy cargoes to Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro power plant, as well as transportation of equipment for the coal and mining industries, developed in the Southern parts of Krasnoyarsk Region, Khakassia and Tyva. The canal lift has been working without any accidents since its startup. Reliable operation proves that its performance guarantees and ensures end-to-end navigation along the Yenisei. In the course of years, the Krasnoyarsk canal lift carried out more than 8,4 thou half cycles (from pound to pound), moved 7,3 thou ships and 2,4 mln tn of cargo (as of 01.08.2011).